our animals

Black Swan

Cygnus atratus

Black swans may be found on their own but they also often form loose groups consisting of several hundred or sometimes thousands of birds. They usually move in flocks, sometimes nest in colonies and are the least territorial of swan species.

Unlike the white mute swans, black swans have black feathers and red beaks, except for its broad white wing tips, visible in flight.
They fly at night, which seems suitable since they would be impossible to see at night, and rest during the day.

Black swans are almost entirely vegetarian. They feed mainly on algae and submerged weeds, which they pull up by tipping forward and reaching their long necks down below the surface, their bottoms in the air and their legs comically waggling in the air.

On the water as well as in flight, black swans make a range of high-pitched, musical, bugling, baying or trumpeting calls. They have also been heard to make a variety of softer crooning notes. If disturbed while nesting they tend to make a whistling sound.

Why are black swans black? This pigment in black feathers makes feathers stronger. It’s thought that many birds have black wing-tips because high levels of melanin protect the flight feathers from wear and tear.

fun facts

Conservation Status:

Least concern


Southern Australia


Inhabit rivers, lakes, and swampland in water that is fresh, salt or brackish


Algae and weeds





Incubation period:

35-48 days

Life Span:

30-40 yrs